Every Hindi film music aficionado knows about the greatness of this man named Sampooran Singh Kalra aka Gulzar. We have all heard his famous songs a thousand times now, such as: “Tere bina zindagi se” from Aandhi, “Hazaar Rahen” from Thodisi Bewafayee, “Mera kuch saaman” from Ijaazat, or “Kajra re” from Bunty aur Babli. This series is about those lesser known songs penned by this master poet.
Movie: Lekin (1990)
Music Director: Hridaynath Mangeshkar
Singer: Suresh Wadkar

surmayee shaam is tarah aaye
saans lete hai, jis tarah saaye

koi aahat nahin, badan ki kahin
phir bhi lagtaa hai, too yahin hain kahin
waqt jaataa sunaayi deta hain
tera saaya dikhaayi deta hain
jaise khushboo nazar se chhoo jaaye
saans lete hai, jis tarah saaye

din ka jo bhi pehar guzarta hain
koi ehsaan sa utarta hain
waqt ke paanv dekhtaa hoon main
roz ye chaanv dekhtaa hoon main
aaye jaise koi khayaal aaye
saans lete hai, jis tarah saaye

Suresh Wadkar – he is probably the most “non-filmy “ singer for playback singing. His voice is more suited for an evening mehfil in an open air lawn setting on a chilly Indian winter night. Don’t get me wrong, he is a brilliant singer, it’s just that his voice is not suited for some Bollywood hero’s lip-synching.

The poetry is laden with the sense of a feeling of intense immobility, stillness and longing. The words create an environment of time slowed down, an evening that refuses to move forward. There is a generous dose of personification of abstract objects and feelings:
– waqt ke paanv dekhta hoon main – I watch the footsteps of time passing by (in the form of shadows moving or elongating as the evening passes by)
– waqt jaata sunayee deta hain – (I) can listen to the time passing by
saans lete hain jaise saaye – Like shadows breathing

But the one line that defies all logic and yet somehow makes sense is:
– jaise khushboo nazar se chhoo jaaye

Not only is a sensory feeling – khushboo: fragrance – being personified here, it’s being used in conjunction with another feeling which is not related to the sensory feeling of “smell”. He associates it with – nazar: vision. He does not stop there, but associates the sense of “seeing” to the sense of touch – “choo jaaye”. In essence (no pun intended), the line means – “as if fragrance touching my sight”. Something tells me a lot has been lost in that translation.

Gulzar’s sense of “senses” is mysterious indeed!